Genetic and Molecular Research DNA Molecular GettyImages-640029042.jpg

Genetic and Molecular Research


Our Genetic and Molecular research theme forms part of our Biological Sciences research group. Our work falls into the following areas:


Antimicrobial resistance

Our work on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) includes both an environmental and clinical approach. We are working to understand how bacteria interact with each-other in their environment, and how certain species dominate and eliminate competitors. In the clinical setting, we are collaborating with health boards to detect and understand AMR using microbiological and molecular approaches. We endeavour to apply our research directly leading to policy change and improve health outcomes.

Covid test - Dr Hayhurst, Dr Jeroen Nieuwland and Dr Ali Roula: Applied Science Research

Rapid molecular diagnostics and detection

We are working with clinical, industry and government partners to develop affordable and rapid methods for the detection of DNA/RNA targets. Applications currently in development include COVID-19, bacterial infections and water quality. During our work on a new rapid COVID-19 test, we have developed a portable and affordable diagnostic platform which is now in production. We are working together with other research groups including wildlife ecology, forensics and electronic engineering to link their research questions and outcomes with applications in the field. 

Human cell biology

Our research in human cell biology focuses on understanding underlying mechanisms connecting physiology with cell biology in hypoxemia, cancer and reproduction. Projects on hypoxemia include both applications in altitude and disease. We are in particular interested in the link between hypoxemia and blood clotting. In our cancer research, we have projects on the role of Osteoprotegerin (OPG) in prostate and lung cancer. Our research on human reproduction includes how occupation affects fertility.


Our multidisciplinary research involves collaboration with clinical, industrial and academic partners. These include:

  • Clinical: Public Health Wales, Public Health England, Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, Aneurin Bevan Health Board
  • Industry: Welsh Water, Biomonde, Axiom, UPG
  • Universities: Cardiff, Southampton, Rotterdam, Brno

Recent Projects

Drs Emma Hayhurst and Jeroen Nieuwland were awarded funding from the Longitude Prize Discovery Award to help develop their revolutionary rapid testing kit for the SARS-CoV 2 virus. 

Subsequently, they have received financial backing from the Welsh Government's Covid Response, Research, Development and Innovative Solutions fund. Alongside industry collaboration with GX GroupBioMondeUPGPublic Health Wales and NHS Wales, they have used this investment to validate the test device and kits.

Their spin-out company, Llusern Scientific, which developed this testing, won the 2020 MediWales Innovation Award for Best Start-up.

Backed by an NRN-LCEE Returning Fellowship grant, Dr Emma Hayhurst received Science Research Investment Funding (SRIF) to examine the role of wastewater treatment plants as critical control points for the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria and genes in to the environment. 

The impact of some of this research is covered here.


Dr Josie Bradley

Dr Josie Bradley is an anatomist and reproductive biologist. Her broad research interest is in mechanisms of male and female infertility, however recent work has focussed on investigating how a high fat diet affects egg quality.

Sport Research - Lewis Fall

Dr Lewis Fall's principal research interests focus on the blood haemostatic system and its interaction with vascular disease. His current research includes investigating the role of oxidative stress in the pathopysiology of haemostasis; the influence of plasma volume correction on the interpretation of blood-borne biomarkers of haemostasis; and the effect of different blood sampling devices and protocols on the interpretation of blood-borne biomarkers of haemostasis.

Dr Emma Hayhurst

Dr Emma Hayhurst is a molecular microbiologist at the University of South Wales with expertise in anti-microbial resistance. She is interested in the transmission and detection of antibiotic resistance in the environment and the clinic, and in the wider issue of reducing inappropriate prescriptions through improved diagnostics, public engagement and improvements in public health. 

Dr Hayhurst works in partnership with the water industry and the NHS. For the past few years she has been working on a translational research project to develop an affordable diagnostic device for urinary tract infections (UTIs).

She is a member of the Microbiology Society, Society for Applied Microbiology, and British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy; and project lead on the UK water industry research project anti-microbial resistance in waste and drinking water (2020). 

She is a Fellow of Advance HE (FHEA).

Dr cerith_jones

Dr Cerith Jones is a molecular microbiologist experienced in bacterial genetics and genomics. His broad interests are how bacteria interact with each-other in their environment, and how certain species dominate and eliminate competitors. Dr Jones is currently involved in a project characterising the replacement of antibiotics in pig production with novel alternatives. 

Before moving to the University of South Wales he undertook a BBSRC funded Research Associate position at Cardiff University exploring the antimicrobial activity and population biology of Burkholderia bacteria from the Cystic Fibrosis lung. He obtained his PhD from Imperial College London with a thesis on the Type Six Secretion Systems of the opportunistic human pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

Cerith is an Associate Fellow of Advance HE (AFHEA). 

Professor Denis Murphy

Denis Murphy is Emeritus Professor of Biotechnology at the University of South Wales with expertise in agriculture, biotechnology and bioinformatics. He specialises in genome analysis and data mining in crop plants with special emphasis on oil crops such as rapeseed, soybean and oil palm. 

For the past few decades Professor Denis Murphy has worked as an international advisor and consultant with government agencies and private organisations on topics such as GM crops, biofuels and food security. He is Chair of the Biology Advisory Committee at the Malaysian Palm Oil Board and works as Biotechnology Advisor with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

Dr Jeroen Nieuwland

Dr Jeroen Nieuwland is a molecular geneticist with a background in plant biology and molecular diagnostics. Dr Nieuwland is currently involved in the development of a rapid and affordable molecular testing platform which can be used in the detection of for example COVID-19 and UTIs. He is collaborating with Public Health Wales, Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board and various industry partners.

He is a Senior Fellow of Advance HE (SFHEA).

Applied Sciences Research - Dr Sioned Owen

Dr Sioned Owen specialises in biochemistry and pharmacology. Her research focuses on breast, prostate and lung cancers with a particular on the molecular changes which facilitate their metastatic spread.

Identification of factors and moelcular changes enable testing of current therapeutic drugs and potential for novel tareted therapies using cell-based models.

Sky Redland

Dr Sky Redhead’s research investigates the fate of antibiotic resistant and virulent Escherichia coli within anaerobic digestion. She compares a variety of different anaerobic digestion methods for their ability to reduce antibiotic resistant bacteria and genes in digestate. She also assesses the impact of wastewater treatment plants on levels of antibiotic resistance genes in a receiving river. Sky is currently a PhD candidate at USW.

Research students

  • Charlotte Neath
  • Wekadapola Thilakaratne
  • Leah Sheppard
  • Talatu Usar

Research opportunities

We welcome UK and international applications from suitably qualified graduates interested in joining us for either Masters by Research or PhD research programmes. Find out more on the Graduate School website or contact Dr Jeroen Nieuwland for an informal discussion.

Research partners

Public Health Wales logo

Welsh Assembly Government logo

Contact us

Dr Jeroen Nieuwland, Senior Lecturer in Biology

Email: [email protected]